Statement on European Enlargement

Thu 24 Jul 2003

Social Democratic Women's Statement On Gender Equality In European Enlargement

We, women leaders from European socialist and social democratic parties, gathered at the occasion of the SIW regional meeting in Budapest, on July 20, 2003, are profoundly convinced that the unification of Europe is the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity for the European citizens, women and men. EU enlargement provides a historic opportunity for women to work together for a united Europe in democratic states, to fight for equality in rights and opportunities and their enforcement. Women in accession and applicant countries, averaging at least the same percentages in education and in the labor force as women in EU member states, see this as an opportunity to develop their status and potential.

We welcome the European Parliament resolutions where the issue of equality between women and men in Europe and equal opportuntiies is seen as one of the conditions for accession.

Gender inequalities are not only specific to EU accession and applicant countries, but are also present in most EU member states. This offers an opportunity for women and men throughout Europe to strongly impact political, economic and social measures that relate to gender equality and create a conducive environment for equality, more equitable and gender balanced development. Political action of socialist and social-democratic parties in government, in opposition and at the European Parliament is indispensable to push the equality agenda forward in Europe for gender equality is above all an issue of political will and practical focus on social equality and justice. Gender mainstreaming measures should be applied both sectorally and as a cross-cutting concern in the implementation of accession agreements.

Socialist and social democratic parties should be urged to develop advocacy and information campaigns to inform citizens on the enlargement process and to empower women to support it and ultimately profit from it.

We call upon socialist and social democratic parties to ensure that in the enlargement process gender issues are not marginalised and that special attention is paid to:

  1. Respect for women’s human rights by: formulating and enforcing anti-discriminatory laws and measures in all walks of life; enacting equal opportunity laws, also for migrant workers and ethnic minority women; respecting women’s reproductive rights; addressing violence against women; combating trafficking with women; taking measures to address the issue of prostitution; supporting specific information and training on gender legislation and the human rights of women aimed at the legal professions, labor inspectors and social partners in the EU and in the applicant countries.

  1. Equality in decision making processes, equal participation and representation by: adopting positive measures to promote the participation of women at all levels of political decision making, especially within socialist and social democratic parties, e.g. implementation of the quota system, enforcing gender equality on electoral lists at all levels (local, national, European) especially in the preparation for 2004 European parliamentary elections; promoting women in trade unions and as managers in the private sector.

  1. Equality in the workplace and in the economy by: enacting equal opportunity laws, increasing incentives for women to enter the labor market; encouraging life long learning, providing active labor market measures for women; ensuring equal pay for equal work, promoting economic and social measures to reconcile family and professional life, career breaks, part time jobs and other phenomena which affect feminisation of poverty in Europe; promoting women’s access to new technology and especially in information and communications.
  2. Equality in access and full enjoyment of social rights by: addressing monitoring of regulation and legislation in the social sphere - parental leave, maternal protection, working time, contracts. Combat social exclusion by approaching the issue of care, unpaid and reproductive economy; providing quality health care, and child care measures; finding joint innovative approaches to urgent gender issues like negative demographic trends, social security and health care, life long training.

  1. Equality in society by: addressing cultural and patriarchal stereotypes in education, media, politics and public life, combating discrimination based on sex, ethnicity and religion including religious fundamentalism; spreading awareness about gender equality as a civilization achievement of the emerging European culture.



Signature of the representative



Fiorella Ghilardotti


New Democratic party

Dawn Black

The Netherlands

Dutch Labor party

Marlene Haas


Hungarian Socialist Party

Zita Gurmai


Hungarian SDP

Martha Bonifert

Serbia and Montenegro

Social Democratic Party

Dragana Petroviæ, Olgica Kirèanski


Partido Revolucionario Fabr.

Josefina Duarte


Social Democratic party

Mirjana feriæ Vac, Karolina Leakoviæ


Bulgarian Social Democrats

Nadia Radeva


Bulgarian Socialist Party

Deniza Slateva


United List of Social Dem.

Sonja Lokar